Star Lotulelei: How Health Concerns Have Affected DT's Draft Stock

Chris ImperialeCorrespondent IApril 23, 2013

Star Lotulelei will be a force in the NFL.
Star Lotulelei will be a force in the NFL.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Star Lotulelei is one of the most interesting players in the 2013 NFL Draft.  The defensive tackle from Utah is one of the most popular stories this year because of his health concerns and how they’ve affected his draft stock.

At this year’s scouting combine, doctors discovered an irregularity with Lotulelei’s heart.  They found that his left ventricle wasn’t performing at the normal efficiency, thus scaring just about every team that had him on their draft boards.

Before the issue, Lotulelei was ranked third in ESPN’s Scouts Inc.’s Top 32, and was expected to be one of the top picks in this year’s draft.  However, many teams tend to shy away from players with medical issues because of the investment that comes with a first-round pick.

After not working out in Indianapolis, Lotulelei participated in Utah’s pro day, where he was able to silence his doubters by putting up very respectable numbers in the main drills.  By showing his health, Lotulelei helped restore NFL organizations' faith in him.

The latest mock drafts on have the defensive tackle going early in the first round, just not perhaps in the top-5 like originally projected.  Many teams could use Lotulelei’s talents, as he proved in college he is a phenomenal run-stuffer and disruptive force in the middle of the line.

Lotulelei will most likely be drafted by a team that uses the 3-4 defensive scheme.  He’s shown that he can be a quality plug on a three-man line that demands a double-team because of his great athleticism. Draft Analyst Josh Norris has Lotulelei being selected with the No. 4 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.  Philly has a new coach in Chip Kelly who would love to improve his defense that ranked 23rd in rushing defense last season.

Other mock drafts have the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets as potential landing spots for the former Ute.

After receiving medical clearance, there’s truly no telling how high Lotulelei can be drafted.  One thing that is guaranteed is that he will be taken sometime during the first round and provide a high-energy motor to someone’s defensive line.